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Hymns of Paradise
Fr. Apostolos Hill
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1. Troparia, Tone 4
2. Everlasting Be Their Memory
3. Trisagion Hymn
4. First Stasis of 17th Kathisma, Tone 6
5. Second Stasis of 17th Kathisma, Tone 5
6. Third Stasis of 17th Kathisma, Tone 8
7. Evlogetaria for the Dead, Tone 5
8. Troparia, Tone 8
9. Funeral Hymns; Hymn One, Tone 1
10. Funeral Hymns; Hymn Two, Tone 2
11. Funeral Hymns; Hymn Three, Tone 3
12. Funeral Hymns; Hymn Four, Tone 4
13. Funeral Hymns; Hymn Five, Tone 5
14. Funeral Hymns; Hymn Six, Tone 6
15. Funeral Hymns; Hymn Seven, Tone 7
16. Funeral Hymns; Hymn Eight, Tone 8
17. Prokeimenon, Tone 3
18. The Epistle
19. The Gospel
20. Stichera of the Last Kiss
21. Aionia I mnimi
A contemporary recording of the hymnology of the Eastern Orthodox funeral service in Byzantine chant. The recording in English includes the entire service (including the Trisagion), and is complete with the Epistle and Gospel readings. Clearly presented are the core hymns of the service composed by St. Isaac the Syrian and St. John of Damascus. The recording includes a 24-page color booklet with complete hymn text and narrative on the history and development of the funeral service, its hymnology and theology, as well as Notes from the artist.
This is perhaps one of the most important recordings of Byzantine liturgical chant in English produced to date for two reasons: first, it presents this rich musical tradition artistically sung in modern English and second, it provides a rich body of texts concerning the mystery of death and paradise generally unfamiliar to Western culture.
For those of us who use English as our first language, Fr. Apostolos Hill and his supporting singers give a truly prayerful and artistic performance, letting us experience these ancient chants with a refreshing immediacy. The singing captures the Greek vocal style and ornamentation of the vocal lines while preserving a pristine clarity of the texts. The musical clothing of the vernacular flows naturally and convincingly. The musical effect as a whole is soothing and suitable for private meditation.
However, it is the nature and scope of the texts themselves that provide the listener from Western religious traditions with new theological approaches to the mystery of death and resurrection. The Orthodox funeral service presents images that are significantly different from Catholic and Protestant celebrations in ways that are both complementary and challenging. For instance, the hymns of St. John of Damascus form a meditation on the immediate feelings of separation and fear of death experienced by the surviving family and friends of one who has recently died. While Western liturgies tend to focus on the deceased being welcomed in the heavenly community of saints and angels, these intensely pastoral Orthodox texts address the immediate feelings of pain, sorrow, and confusion experienced by the survivors.
The accompanying texts included with the CD are of outstanding quality. They very clearly outline a theology of death and paradise in a way comprehensible to those who may have no connection with Eastern Christianity or even a basic formation in any form of Christianity. Particularly effective is the explanation of Paradise as the original blissful state created by God for humanity, and also as the goal and promise for those who live by faith.
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